Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 20th, 2007
Of course, at some level, one could say we don’t even know what we are looking for and what skills or odors or equipment it will ultimately take to find unknown hairy hominoids. After all, we haven’t found any Bigfoot, Yeti, Almas, or Skunk Ape yet, so what we have been doing isn’t working – or the unknown hairy hominoids are not out there. But that doesn’t stop some people from criticizing others who are for a completely open field of investigators – from academics to truck drivers, from women to men, from true believers to skeptics. For example, in a recent case, two of us encouraging women are labeled as chauvinistic. This seems a curious reaction, doesn’t it?
Intelligent women involved in Bigfoot research wish to have an open discussion about sexism in the field. I say great. But it seems incredibly remarkable to me that two women would pick out as targets to critique George Noory and myself, via mislabeling or misunderstanding what we discussed just last week, via seemingly trying to pin the label “male chauvinists” on our backs.
I am at once dismayed, outraged and disappointed in Robin Bellamy and Sue Darroch for remarks they have made to warp around George and my brief discussion about supporting women in Bigfoot fieldwork and then say it is “a bit chauvinistic.”
In the May 20, 2007 blog by Sue Darroch, she uploaded a posting entitled “Sunday Smackdown….Male Chauvinism Within Cryptozoology?” I post it here, without edits, including her misspelling of “Sasquatch,” so there will be no accusing me of trying to emphasis one part over another. This is done to make immediate commentary on Darroch’s editiorialized view of George and my talk show sidebar on why women might, in the end, do better in the Bigfoot field. Here is what she says:
Famed Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman was recently interviewed on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, and one of the topics that was brought up is one that we’ve been tossing around on our paranormal message forums lately….women in Cryptozoology. Something that appears at least on the surface to be too far, and too few between…and I thought there was an “old boys” network in UFOlogy .. huh!
Mr Coleman had made an interesting point about women in the field though. Could Bigfoot or a Saquatch [sic] find a woman less threatening or more attractive in the field? Would this give her an advantage in the study? You can read more on Loren Coleman’s thoughts on this subject here.
Frankly, our own Director of Cryptozoology, Robin Bellamy who is a woman found this a bit chauvinistic, and so did I. More likely women in the field would do well because of their SKILLS and METHOD than their hormones!
However, they’re talking about women in the field and that’s a good thing. Right! Right? Sue Darroch, “Sunday Smackdown….Male Chauvinism Within Cryptozoology?”12:56:25 am, 05/20/07,
I did not use the word “attractive” in the same way that it seems Darroch appears to be implying I did. I was not talking about sexual attraction but about how animals have a fight or flight response, how they “read” each other. I wasn’t talking about hormones, but more correctly, about pheromones (i.e. those chemical substances released by an animal that serves to influence the physiology or behavior of other members of the same or similar species). As noted in the blog posting in which Darroch has not shared the title, in “Women Bigfooters Do Better Fieldwork?”, I was discussing the biological level of relating used in conjunction with fieldwork – and alluded to the work of Jane Goodall. Goodall was not using her “hormones” to have sex with chimpanzees, but instead, the messages in her pheromones to send signals to the chimpanzees that she was not a threat to them.
Darroch appears unaware of my previous work on gender and sexism, including the fact my master’s thesis was written about sexism in the professionals, and my masters was awarded from the women’s college where I attended their graduate school for my masters degree.
Darroch also apparently has missed that sexism has been a topic of some interest to me and readers here at Cryptomundo. It is fine if she wants to call me “a bit chauvinistic,” for as a male, despite my best efforts, I probably do slip, as most males do. But in my discussion on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, I was well-aware of the low numbers of Bigfooters who are female, and was alert to the fact that what I was saying was to support more women in the field, not less.
Indeed, in my blog “Homophobus mysognistis xenophobus ignoramus,”, I might have went overboard to state my point, but from Darroch’s posting, it is apparent I did not make my point enough. Simply stated, the more people – of all kinds, of all genders – in cryptozoology – the better.
I won’t soon stop how I view the importance of expunging “evidence” and “theories” with xenophobic, homophobic, and racism backgrounds from cryptozoology and hominology. It is one thing to criticize people based on their theories or thought-process (like Mary Green, for her continued lack of evidence, or Jack Lapseritis, for shaky less than concrete thinking), and quite another to go after people because they, for example, are women, Native, African-American, or Jewish.
So instead of just complaining, what can we do? We all are required to do our part in changing the legacy of subtle colonial and cultural oppression to be found even within the study of hidden animals and hairy hominoids. You can do something about making the right choices in your cryptozoological work. Let me give you an example, one I constructed very consciously in the mid-1990s.
In Cryptozoology A to Z (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999), understanding what occurs for young people through descriptions of role models, I (along with coauthor Jerome Clark) presented biographies of men and women that would inspire girls and boys. To counterbalance any sense that this was an overly celebrity-filled Caucasian American male-dominated field, I liberally sprinkled my book with biographical examples that were as diverse as is the global field of cryptozoology.
I purposefully highlighted women (e.g. Ruth Harkness, Roberta “Bobbie” Short, Eugenie Clark, Ramona Clark, Barbara Wasson, Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, Odette Tchernine, Arlene Gaal), non-Americans (e.g. Arlene Gaal, Dmitri Bayonov, Odette Tchernine, Rene Dahinden, Boris Porshnev, Michel Raynal, Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, Tan Hong Viet, Lars Thomas, Gerald Russell), and forgotten historical individuals (e.g. Ruth Harkness, Forrest Wood, Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, Gerald Russell, Odette Tchernine, Bruce S. Wright, Ramona Clark). Also, remembering this was in 1999, I also pointed to the up-and-coming stars (e.g. Arlene Gaal, Jeff Meldrum, Bobbie Short, Bill Gibbons). Of 200 entries in Cryptozoology A to Z, some 60 biographies in all were written on those who had contributed to cryptozoology by the end of the 1990s. Most were men, of course, because the field is mostly male, but that did not stop us from gathering as many women in the book as the publisher’s space would allow us.
For those individuals for whom I was unable to obtain more complete biographies or due to editorial limitations, I made certain that other female role models (who were researching hairy unknown hominoids) were mentioned in the entries on specific cryptids. Examples include British travel writer turned fulltime field cryptozoologist Deborah Martyr (under “Orang Pendek”), medical doctor Anne Mallasse (under “Barmanu”), and Myra Shackley (under “Almas”).
I did and do my writing in an unspoken expression and commitment to the fact that the fields of cryptozoology and hominology can be open to whomever wishes to engage in the pursuit and research on cryptids and unknown hominoids. There need not be any barriers in the way of those that dream, those that do, and those that wish to achieve, other than the normal, routine, and unfortunate cultural, societal, racist, ageist, and sexist roadblocks that are thrown up in the way of any human who wishes to break past traditions and forge ahead. It is time for us, in this realm too, to commit to break those barriers down.
Am I a chauvinist? Well, sometimes I may be too defensive, too passionate, too interested in pushing the envelope into the future, too nerdy, and too sleepy, but I’ve never gotten the feedback from women – or men – that I’m a chauvinist. I can’t speak for how George Noory feels, but from being on his show almost 20 times, I have not experienced him as being a sexist, a chauvinist, a racist, or a xenophobe. I am sorry Robin Bellamy and Sue Darroch found our comments on C2C “a bit chauvinistic.”
Hominologist and Texas resident Melissa Hovey has written a thoughtful response on this issue.
See her “The Search for Bigfoot: A Scientific Forum” for Sunday, May 20, 2007, specifically her blog “Is Loren Coleman a Chauvinist?”.
I appreciate her taking the time to share what she has written.